Wednesday 7 September 2016

Fareham Town - Cams Alders Stadium

Fareham Town FC
Cams Alders Stadium
Palmerston Drive
PO14 1RH

Ground Number: 615
Tuesday 6th September 2016
Fareham Town 2-4 Alresford Town
FA Cup 1st Qualifying Round Replay


FAREHAM TOWN were formed in 1947, and started their days in the Portsmouth League, before joining the Hampshire League a couple of years later. They progressed through the league's divisions and their success meant that they were elected to the Southern League in 1979. Starting in the second tier Southern Division, a 5th placed finish was good enough to see them promoted to the Premier Division for the 1982-83 season. At that time the league was the second tier of Non-League and that 8th placed finish in their debut season represents their best ever league finish. Despite a 9th placed finish the season before, the end of the 1988/89 season saw them relegated by a single point as they finished in 19th place. They'd spend 9 seasons back in the Southern Division, always in the lower half of the table. To cut down on travelling costs, they resigned from the Southern League at the end of the 1997/98 season and joined the Wessex League. They've been in it's top division since, with their best finish of 6th coming in 2010.

The Creeksiders have a rich cup history, reaching the FA Cup 1st Round on 4 occasions. The most recent and most impressive occasion came in the last season they were in the Southern Premier, in 1988/89. Wins over Chichester City, Basingstoke Town, Bashley and Dover Athletic saw them awarded a 1st Round tie against football league opponents in Torquay United. A trip to Devon saw them gain an excellent 2-2 draw, before narrowly losing 3-2 in the replay on their home ground. A couple of years before that, the club were involved in cup magic in the FA Trophy, reaching the semi-final. They'd already beaten Barnet and Scarborough who were to become Football League clubs within a few years but lost out to eventual winners Kidderminster Harriers in a 2-legged semi-final, despite gaining a goalless draw in the first leg in Worcestershire.

Recent times have not seen so much success, with the best-ever run in the FA Vase being the 3rd Round which was achieved twice during the early 2000's. In local competitions, Fareham Town have won the Hampshire Senior Cup on 4 occasions, the most recent being the 1992/93 season when they beat Conference side Farnborough Town 4-1. Famous players to appear for the club include Steve Claridge, Dave Leworthy and Mark Chamberlain. The latter is current England star Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain's dad and also managed the club for a while.


Though I'd been planning to go to Fareham for a while, I'd only planned this one in on the previous night. As soon as the round dates came out for the FA Cup in July, I knew that I would be aiming for an FA Cup replay in this midweek The original plan was to go to Kirby Muxloe v Leicester Road and take Anwar, but not for the first time he had an excuse up his sleeve, this time that he had caught the flu, and it's now nearly 2 months since we did our last groundhop together, thanks to commitments on both sides. I did briefly consider looking for a non-cup game, as Fareham was 90 miles away and I was getting no help with the petrol. But the lure of the FA Cup and the fact that the nearest new ground to home would be around 50 miles meant that I stuck to my original plan.

Fareham were a club I knew reasonably well, as I am friends with their secretary Paul, who is also a groundhopper. I'd considered going before, but their pitch is extremely succeptible to waterlogging - indeed they went around 4 months last season without a single home game due to the pitch and overly fussy referees. They'd got this far with an impressive win at 3-1 at Bradford Town in the Extra Preliminary Round, before beating Verwood Town in a replay. Alresford had got this far by beating Bridport in the Extra Preliminary Round. They'd already been giantkillers as they'd beaten Southern League side Wimborne Town in a replay a couple of weeks ago. I'd been to Alresford's pleasant home for a local derby against Winchester City a few years back and it was there on Saturday that tonight's teams had shared a 1-1 draw to set up tonight's game.
On the day of the game, I walked to and from town, which was a round trip of 8 miles to get some much-needed exercise. I got some drinks for tonight's game and a couple of other things before walking home and having lunch. I spent the afternoon researching Fareham Town's history for tonight's blog, before leaving home shortly before 4.30. I opted for a shorter route that avoided the M25 and this generally worked out well, even though it was cross country from the M4. The only delay was around 10 minutes for roadworks around Odiham and I was in Fareham shortly after 6.30. I stopped at a Chinese takeaway called Cutie House to get a pancake roll and chips for dinner before making my way to the ground. Splodge had warned me about a barrier that would prevent me from getting into the ground if I used the club's postcode and from the Chinese it said the ground was only a few hundred yards away. However I still had a two miles to drive to get to the correct spot for the car park and when I did find a parking space I could see the barrier from where I was parked, so what purpose it serves, other than wasting people's petrol and time, I don't know

I was at the ground just before 7 and after getting my things together i went in, paying £6 entry, plus another £1 for the programme. I eat my Spring Roll and chips, which were pretty good for the £4.10 I paid for them, and the portion size was decent. A number of club people and fans saw my Wycombe t-shirt and said hello, and it's always nice when people make an effort to make you feel welcome. I did a circuit of the ground, getting some photos and bumped into Paul,a photographer I know from Facebook and we had a brief chat before I took a seat in the stand for the game. They were playing a decent selection of pre-match tunes including Oasis and The Pogues and I listened to this while catching up online as I waited for the kickoff.

The visitors thought they'd taken the lead on 5 minutes and their fans duly celebrated but from my side of the ground I could see the header was narrowly wide. Fareham did go in front four minutes later. They were awarded a free kick after a foul around 25 yards out, the ball was played to the back post for Callum Laycock to head home. The hosts enjoyed a dominant spell after this and had a few chances to extend their lead, but didn't take them. It was during a good spell for Alresford that they equalised, again it was a free-kick just outside the area, but this time Geoff Dunn stepped up and smashed it into the top corner for a great goal. Alresford continued their good spell and it was only a smart save from home keeper Jamie Bewick that kept things level as the game entered a lull and we drifted towards half-time. After the break it was pretty equal in terms of play, but Fareham retook the lead on 55 minutes. A good through-ball set up Ash Tattersall who got away from the defence and slotted into the bottom right-hand corner. A few minutes later though it was level again as Liam Hall profited after the hosts failed to cut out a cross. Just after that the referee was injured and had to substitute himself. There was a delay while they searched for a replacement. The visitors took the lead for the first time a few minutes later when Mohammed Nyang finished off a well-worked move with a smart finish. It didn't take long for Jamie Nash to make it 4, this time with a great chip over the keeper. The Alresford manager certainly enjoyed the moment, dancing out of his dugout and onto the pitch. Fareham had a fair while to mount a comeback but with the visitors packing their defence solid,  it never looked likely.

I'd bumped into Bath fan Andy and Bashley fan Sheridan during the game and we had a good chat about the more amusing side of non-league football. I also bumped into Splodge as I was leaving, so it had been a good night for meets too. I put CityTalk, a radio station from Liverpool on my phone to listen to Pete Price on the way home, and this kept me entertained. It was 9.50 by the time I left and with predicted 20-minute delays on the M25 I got my sat nav to take me back the way I had come. There was a small diversion, but nothing too annoying and I was home by 11.30. I watched TV for a bit, before going to sleep, having enjoyed another good night of football at a friendly club. Fareham can consider themselves unlucky not to have had more of a say in this tie, but Alresford march on and it's becoming quite a run for them as they'd never got past the Preliminary Round prior to this season.


CAMS ALDERS STADIUM is a great ground for the level, which obviously comes from Fareham being a Southern League club for a good number of years. The main stand is large for the level - whereas most clubs have 100 or so seats, this has 450 spaces. Despite it being over 40 years old, there are  not too many supporting pillars to impede your view and legroom is decent. It's also elevated above pitch level which makes up for the sizeable gap in front of the stand, where there was once a cinder track. There are various bits of cover on this side also, amounting to 500 further standing spaces. The rest of the ground is open standing, and has an overall capacity of 5,500.

The programme on the night was only in black and white, but was good value at £1 and had a decent amount to read in it, especially for one created at short notice. The tea bar looked decent, with a good range of food at the normal prices, and you could even pay by card for a small charge. The bar was part of a nightclub and looked quite sleek, with it having a fairly standard range of drinks on offer. Nearby there is a parade of shops with a Chinese takeaway, though it's advisable to walk as it's a few minutes away as opposed to a 2-mile drive. I didn't visit the town, but this is 15 minutes walk away according to the club website.

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